wu_wei

Remember your golden times of trust

When I was a child I used to spend summer holidays at my aunts, in villages they lived in. I was playing in the meadows, cycling along small paths, walking in forests and picking up berries and mushrooms, helping in the garden or around the animals. Life was simple, yet rich in sensations and experiences. These were the golden times of an enormous growth yet peace. There was trust.

I loved to be an explorer. I used to jump on a bike and cycle as fast as I could over off-beaten tracks until I arrived at a new place: a hidden meadow, a tiny hill, an old tree, or far-away field. I loved to lie on the meadow grass or warm sandy ground in the forest and look at the high grass, trees and clouds. I felt fully alive, in resonance with the vibrating earth.

I was there, present in the moment, feeling the pulse of Life in me and around me. It was magical.

I was observing the gracious movements of flowers or weeds, dance of tree tops, walks of ants or the hard work of bees, or bugs carrying their food. I was listening to the tuk-tuk and cuckoo sounds, grass-hooper’s music, wasps’ melodies and all type of noises and sounds of living nature. I was connected to the plants and creatures. Inseparable, it seemed.

With only little time, my senses used to become sharp. Extra-sensitive, I would say now. I was seeing colorful light bubbles and sun-rays dancing playfully around. I was sensing the heavyneass and tingling of the air. I felt the vibrations of the leaves. I was hearing the sounds of flying butterflies, songs of light zephyrs or heated discussions between insects.  I was both an observer and a participant of the vibrant reality.

I felt an enormous respect for the Order and Structure behind the things and their place. I was blended in to Life around me.

These were perfect times for a busy child, teaching her to be. No problems. No worries. No obligations. Just a healing presence in the magically orchestrated Whole.

I used to spend hours by being a part of these Experiences. I have always had a highed sense of calm and poise when I was returning from my exploration to my daily tasks. I felt strong yet flexible at the same time.

Wu wei

Wu wei is an interesting principle that basically teaches us about active non-doing. When you face a difficult challenge or a problem, your natural inclination is to do something about it. Be it a judgment, a talk, a call, a plan of action or a piece of advice. You want to solve it in one way or the other in order to move forward. 

This comes from the belief that problems are being solved by taking action as if the energy required for the doing can be translated into the final result. While it is necessary at right times, in other times – it is simply not so. Action may become counterproductive.

There are times when doing will not bring the solution you hope for. This is especially true when there is a shock or a big challenge outside your comfort zone. You may educate yourself, read books, take courses, collect advice and imitate successful people to learn which actions to take. And you may take the effort to optimize your actions. Yet, the results are none, poor or mediocre at best. Your frustration is high, hope is gone and there is no solution at a horizon.

Patience, my Dear!

We often believe we need to plan and organize things all the time. Yet, the nature operates in perfect ways without our organization. Perhaps, things do not need to be organized as much as we think, but simply appreciated, given attention to and understood. If you understand them, either you or they will change.

Active non-doing teaches us that Doing originates from Being. Doing for the sake of doing only creates the illusion of progress. You need to be first before you can do. It may sound trivial but … do you practise it?

  • How many times did you jump to conclusions or take action before even understanding what the issue was about?
  • How many times did you give your advice to your kids, spouse, friends, colleagues or neighbors without listening to them with full attention first?
  • How many times were you frustrated because the pattern repeated itself for the Xth time? Say, your kids got strep throat again, you put on weight, you got reprimanded by your boss, your report or article was either neglected or rejected,  you again scored poorly on job interview, and so on.

Perhaps your active doing to improve the situation is totally in vain, even if you educate yourself to the highest level. Perhaps there is the time for wu wei.

Wu wei or active non-doing simply means to stop and pay attention.

Pause.
Look around.
Observe patterns. 
Feel the presence of weeds, shoes, hands, clothes, cars, faces or own thoughts.

When you perceive a problem, blend in to the circumstances surrounding it. Observe the problem. Let it be. Don’t give it names, adjectives or descriptions. Don’t analyze it. Sense it instead.  And in meantime, nourish yourself. There is no need for an immediate solution. Wait!

Stop preaching to and reprimanding your child. Feel as he may be feeling first to understand his issues with the pears.

Stop thinking of strategies to make your boss like you in order to get the rise. Pay attention to his presence: his intonation, voice or face expressions. Be there and observe. Understand his frustrations. Become like him to sense what the issue he has with you.

Feel the frustration of your spouse or friend. Let him/her be loved and understood. They don’t need your advice (unless they deliberately ask for it), but they need your acceptance and love. 

You can think rationally, plan new approaches, discuss strategies of action with experts, follow the best advice, yet everything may just brings confusion. In order to be effective with your doing you have to be present in the moment first.

So…

Be present. In this very moment. Blend in. Pay attention to the details. Participate. Listen.

When you are present, you will be blessed with answers. The answer is already there, in the silence. You only need to wait, notice it and understand.

*** 

Exercises:

1. Presence.

Stop what you are doing. Look around. Notice the details. Even if there is seemingly nothing happening, pay attention. 
What do you hear? What do you notice now that you haven’t had just before a while?
What is the atmosphere around?
How are your hands and feet? Are they fresh or tired? What do they sense?
Look around closely. Notice five elements that you have not noticed before.
Close your eyes. Find another five.

Train your attention and perception. Sense. There are the colors, the temperature, the sounds, the vibrations, the smells ….

2. Active non-doing.

Think of three challenges that solved themselves without your doing and participation. Recall them. Pay attention.

What were the essential ingredients that led to the solution?
How did they contribute to a sequence of events that brought you to the final solution?

What was your active non-doing contribution? 
What did you have to notice, observe and feel to restrain from taking action? 
What was it to have  helped in creating this spontaneous effect (i.e. the problem has solved itself)?

Do you see any patterns, or a trend perhaps?

***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

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Categories: BeingExercisesReflectionUnderstanding

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